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The internet versus small groups

Jul 15, 1997 10:28 AM
by Titus Roth

I don't quite share the enthusiasm about the Internet, the golden age of
communication and all that. The lack of face-to-face contact has its
limitations. While the freedom of expression is certainly much better than
censorship, most lists seem to degenerate into incredibly childish behavior
and little real exchange. This list, from my totally unscientific and random
study, seems to be in the minority that are relatively free of this.

M. Scott Peck talked about the stages of a community. In the earlier stages
there is pseudo-harmony where everyone is pseudo-nice and terrified of
disintegration, so they are not frank. Then there is chaos, where the
pseudo-harmony breaks down with suppressed unconscious material
surfacing. Here the very existence of the group is in question. Then some are
able to find community out of chaos, where people learn to respect one
another. These steps seem to be inevitable.

The problem with the internet:

Without face-to-face contact, most lists tend to stay somewhere between
pseudo-harmony and chaos. It is just too easy to indulge in non-constructive
hurtful words when you are insulated by distance and faceless
anonymity. Without a flesh and blood person in front of you, it is more
difficult to learn respect.

IMHO, small groups will be in the spiritual forefront.


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